Larynx Cancer (cont.)

Targeted Therapy

Some people with laryngeal cancer receive a type of treatment known as targeted therapy. It may be given along with radiation therapy.

Cetuximab (Erbitux) was the first targeted therapy approved for laryngeal cancer. Cetuximab binds to cancer cells and interferes with cancer cell growth and the spread of cancer. You may receive cetuximab through a vein once a week for several weeks at the doctor's office, hospital, or clinic.

During treatment, your health care team will watch for signs of problems. Some people get medicine to prevent a possible allergic reaction. Side effects may include rash, fever, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea. These effects usually become milder after the first treatment.

You may want to ask your doctor these questions about chemotherapy or targeted therapy:

  • Why do I need this treatment?
  • Which drug or drugs will I have
  • How does the drug work?
  • When will treatment start? When will it end?
  • How will I feel during treatment? What are the side effects? Are there any lasting side effects? What can I do about them?

How does a person get a second opinion after a throat cancer diagnosis

Before starting treatment, you may want a second opinion about your diagnosis, stage of cancer, and treatment plan. Some people worry that the doctor will be offended if they ask for a second opinion. Usually the opposite is true. Most doctors welcome a second opinion. And many health insurance companies will pay for a second opinion if you or your doctor requests it. Some companies require a second opinion.

If you get a second opinion, the second doctor may agree with your first doctor's diagnosis and treatment plan. However, if the second opinion doctor has a different opinon, he or she may suggest another approach, and may help you decide between them. Either way, you'll have more information and perhaps a greater sense of control. You can feel more confident about the decisions you make, knowing that you've looked at all of your options.

It may take some time and effort to gather your medical records and see another doctor. The delay in starting treatment usually will not make treatment less effective. To make sure, you should discuss this delay with your doctor.

There are many ways to find a doctor for a second opinion. You can ask your doctor, a local or state medical society, a nearby hospital, or a medical school for names of specialists.

Also, you can get information about treatment centers near you from NCI's Cancer Information Service. Call 1–800–4–CANCER (1–800–422–6237). Or chat using LiveHelp, NCI's instant messaging service, at http://www.cancer.gov/ livehelp.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/14/2014

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